Career Guide

Web Designer

Ben Maples  · Sep 9th 2020

Are you looking for a career where you will get to design and be creative? Well, then this career might just be perfect for you!

Internet content on laptop and tablet

The world of web design can be difficult and can be very long hours, but the results are almost unparalleled and what’s more, this job ranks as one of the most sought-after jobs in the UK.

But what is a Web Designer and what do they do? Well, we’ve got a great career guide for you here, which tells you everything you need to know about this career, so let’s jump in, shall we?

Web Designer Career Guide

What is web designing?

Web design is the process of preparing, arranging and creating content for the internet. Web designing as we know it today is much more than how a web page looks; it’s also about how it works. Web design jobs are not just for websites or internet pages; they can also work on mobile and web apps and user interface design.

What is a web designer?

A website designer creates and plans code for web pages, and utilises both technical and non-technical skills to develop web pages for their clients. Web design jobs determine how the site looks, how it works and are responsible for the maintenance and available updates for an existing website. If we take a look at the web designer job description, we can see they combine their technical skills with a creative flair to make websites that are aesthetically pleasing, easy to use and suit their purpose.

The web design career has recently expanded to phones and tablet devices or apps, due to the growth in popularity and technological advancements. Therefore, a web designer must test services on all devices to ensure the web pages work no matter what.

Sometimes the role of a web developer is used instead of a web designer, but they are not the same position. Web developing is a specialist role who focuses on the back-end of a website and will create complex functions during the development of the website.

As web designing experience is a vital part of securing work, you should try to build up your portfolio any chance you can get.

What does a web designer do?

If you’re focused on becoming a web designer, you’ll need to know what happens on a day-to-day basis. Web designers meet clients, identify their needs and services, draw up detailed specifications and design sample layouts for their clients. Designing graphics, animations and pages are everyday tasks for this position, as well as presenting initial ideas to their clients. Responsibilities also extend to working with various content management programmes, coding, manipulating digital images and registering web domain names and organising the site’s host.

If you’re wondering ‘how to be a web designer’, well it’s much more than being tech-savvy or having a love for websites. You’ll need to understand legal policies like accessibility standards, privacy and freedom of information as well as use SEO (search engine optimisation) to get the website and individual pages a high ranking. Web designers ensure all visual imagery is in line with the organisation’s branding and standards, and proofread content before uploading.

Debugging code, editing content and re-designing web pages are also typical duties, as well as liaising with outside agencies. A web designer is responsible for finishing the brief for the deadline, handing over the completed product and providing technical support afterwards. You may also work with graphic designers and web developers and train the clients’ staff to understand the website.

Web Designer Career

How to become a web designer in the UK?

Now, how to become a website designer? We’ve established what the daily tasks are of a web design job; the next step is to understand how to make it a reality. There are various ways to obtain web designer qualifications for this career. Although a formal qualification is not essential, some potential employers place creativity and experience higher than a degree. Large companies may offer graduate training schemes, which will require undergraduate or postgraduate web design qualifications.

If you do want to go to university, there are particular degree subjects which are relevant to web designer jobs. These include fine art, digital media production, computer science, web design, information technology, software engineering and multimedia web design.

It’s common for course providers to offer additional subjects alongside web design, which can include development, communications, technology, management, advertising and even languages - great for breaking those international barriers. If you want to take your career in a specific direction, like working abroad or in advertising, then these are useful.

Employers will still look at candidates with a degree or qualification, but work experience, a decent portfolio and creativity are highly valued. Portfolios can be in the form of a hard copy or a digital platform, like a website, to showcase your work. It’s a great chance to show your creativity and skills in a real-time manner.

A website designer creates and plans code for web pages, and utilises both technical and non-technical skills to develop web pages for their clients.

You can also enter the career without a degree, especially if you’re self-taught and have worked on several websites. This experience is also suitable for anyone wishing to work as a self-employed web designer or want to set up their own business.

What web designer skills are valuable?

By digging deeper into the web design job description, we discover there are well sought-after skills and characteristics that will set your application an advantage to others. Web designer jobs require creative individuals, can work within a team and independently, who have excellent attention to detail. Web design skills also include problem-solving, learning new technical skills, and leading a team. Excellent communication and observation skills are also needed when working with clients and colleagues.

Web designing jobs also require technical skills, such as coding (HTML, Javascript, CSS, Dreamweaver), design and graphics (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Flash), programming, (Python, Django, XML/XSLT, ASP and .net), as well as CMS, or content management systems (Drupal, WordPress, Adobe Business Catalyst, Joomla, Zope and Ektron).

It’s worth getting familiar with various programmes as employers may differ in terms of what programmes and coding that they use. Therefore, gaining an understanding of as many as you can extend your skills and job opportunities.

Web Designer

How to secure web design work experience?

As web designing experience is a vital part of securing work, you should try to build up your portfolio any chance you can get. The experience doesn’t have to be extensive, and can either be from paid or voluntary work. One way to gain experience for a web designer job application is to design pages and sites in your own time or for friends and family.

You could also attend internships during your free time throughout your studies or choose a placement year. Your focus should be on developing a portfolio that shows employers your skills, ability and potential, as well as how you can keep up to date with current trends. Another option includes applying for trainee web design jobs for individuals with little experience or graduates from university.

How much do web designers make in the UK?

The web designer salary in the UK can vary on location, size of the organisation and where it’s based. However, the junior web designer salary tends to range from £18,000 to £24,000. After four to six years’, the website designer salary in the UK can increase to £24,000, and with more experience can reach as high as £40,000. Senior roles can earn a wage higher than £40,000. Web design jobs in London, and the south-east may be higher than those in Manchester, as an example. Also, freelance web design jobs and salaries may differ, as you set rates with individual clients.

Although a formal qualification is not essential, some potential employers place creativity and experience higher than a degree.

How to find work in graphic and web design?

There is a range of industries that employ web designers, whether in-house or as a freelancer. Some companies have their web design team, or they’ll use external agencies and freelancers instead. You can find work for job adverts with ‘web designer needed’ or with companies who advertise for freelance web designer jobs. If you’re interested in working for a particular area, like a web designer for a magazine, you can search for opportunities at the individual magazines’ vacancy listings.

There may be opportunities at universities, emergency services, banks, retailers, design agencies, supermarkets or charities. Jobs in-house will allow you to work on projects with the same client and goals, with less variation. However, working for an agency will mean multiple projects with various clients and industries.

What are the prospects for web designers?

The first few years of the web design career is spent developing skills, learning programmes and completing client briefs. After four to five years, you may be promoted to a senior designer position. Following the further experience, you may find particular areas that you enjoy most or where your strengths lie, and you could move into other roles that fill these for large projects. Senior positions manage clients, lead project teams, and after several years of experience, can even become a director of a company.

If the creative side of web design piques your interest, you can specialise in user interface design, graphics, interactive design, information architecture, or front-end web development. Other options involve the technical side, with coding and developing a speciality in these areas.

Or you could set up an agency and manage a team yourself if setting up a company if more suitable. Some web designers choose to venture into teaching positions and obtain a teaching qualification to teach higher or further education students.

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